Homeschooling is a system which was once reserved for just a few who didn’t fit into mainstream education, for a variety of reasons, In recent years, however, the trend has grown in popularity, with around 48,000 children in the UK being homeschooled according to Local Authority records.
How Does Homeschooling Compare To Traditional Schooling?
Homeschooling, also known as home education, does exactly what it says on the tin; it is a system of education in which parents elect to keep their children home from school in order to educate them. This is perfectly legal as long as the parents follow the required legal process which involves informing the school and local authority of the decision.
It is important to remember that this legality is only required if the child has previously been in school; in situations where the child has never attended school, parents have no legal obligation to tell the authorities about their decision to home educate.
Benefits of Homeschooling
The decision to home educate has a range of benefits when compared to traditional schooling methods. It gives the parent greater autonomy and choice over the curriculum, and the subjects studied, allowing them to focus on a preferred path of study. If the student shows particular strengths, interest or passion for a specific subject, there is far more flexibility and freedom to pursue this avenue and to tailor a programme of study which suits the needs of the pupil exactly.
In a similar sense, this flexibility extends to the timetable. Home education offers a much more fluid schedule, not constrained by a traditional sequence or time period. Instead, lessons can be structured and addressed in a way which best suits the lifestyle of the family involved, offering a more free and easy approach which can take into account days out, activities, clubs and even trips.
Home education is in many ways a family affair, and many parents cite this as a key reason why they made the decision. It allows child and parent to spend more time together, and this makes it particularly appealing during adolescence, as families can spend time supporting one another during what can be a challenging period of the student’s life. Couples can also become closer as a result of the decision, as more time is spent together for a common goal. Some families also believe that this strengthens the bond between parent and children, as more time is spent together during the formative years.
Home education can also be an ideal way to help children who may be struggling to achieve or progress, particularly if there are other school avoidance or anxiety issues at play. Parents can adapt their teaching methods to get the best results, and extra time can be spent on concepts which are tricky to grasp. With focused one to one attention, there is less danger of a misunderstanding being overlooked or forgotten, making steady progress more likely. In the same way, if a child appears to be excelling in a particular area, there are no curriculum or scheduling restraints; they can simply power ahead and onto the next topic.
For some parents, their religious or personal beliefs are a large part of their decision to home educate their child; not being bound by a timetable means there is more opportunity to spend time focusing on religious instruction or imparting ethical or moral lessons. Parents in the UK are not required to follow the National Curriculum when homeschooling, and this means there is more scope to follow a set religious lifestyle or belief system which may be restricted by traditional mainstream education.
Benefits of Traditional Schooling
There is no doubt that home education has a range of benefits, and can be a huge help to many students and families. For the sake of balance, however, it is important to consider both sides, and traditional education in a school environment can also offer a number of bonuses to both parents and pupils.
The most apparent advantage to choosing a mainstream school is of course access to a highly trained professional in the form of the teacher. Teachers are required to have a degree and postgraduate qualification in order to practice as a teacher in state schools, and this gives them a high level of not only subject knowledge but best practice and effective pedagogy. They are trained in the best way to teach and deliver information, to inspire and educate children and young people, and to develop and encourage critical thinking and analytical skills to a high level.
Another benefit to a school environment is, of course, the presence of other pupils. While for some this is a reason to home educate – due to issues with bullying and so on – on the whole, this can provide a positive reason to choose traditional schooling. Working with their peers on a daily basis can teach a lot of valuable lessons, such as teamwork and cooperation, conflict resolution, diplomacy, and other vital social skills. It also means that learners have a partner to bounce ideas off and test out theories without having to ask an adult; some students find pair or peer work a less stressful situation and are less afraid of ‘getting it wrong’ than they would be with a teacher or parent. This social element is a key benefit of traditional schooling, and invaluable to pupils.
Time is another issue when it comes to traditional versus homeschooling. Home education requires a massive amount of commitment and dedication on the part of one or both parents. While some choose to bring in external tutors, this can be expensive, and cannot cover the whole curriculum. School is an environment dedicated to learning, and it is the sole job of the teacher to be there, allowing parents to pursue other commitments such as paid work which may be essential to the family.
Both home education and traditional schooling have pros and cons, and it is important to do your research thoroughly into each side before coming to a decision. Each child is unique, with their own learning style, interests, strengths, and challenges, and will all respond differently to different methods of learning. One of the most essential elements of schooling is to foster and inspire a genuine love of learning which the pupil will carry throughout their lives; the way this is achieved is down to personal preference.